Criminals targeted by Cab are paid to bear Kinahan risk in Dublin

As Kinahans live abroad, trusted lieutenants manage drugs business in Republic

Many of the biggest gang leaders supplying the Irish drugs trade reside abroad; and for good reason.

As long as they are tax domiciled in other jurisdictions and have no assets in the Republic they are out of the reach of the Criminal Assets Bureau (Cab).

However, not all senior figures in Irish organised gangs have the luxury of leaving the Republic.

The Kinahan gang is a case in point. Its leaders - Christy Kinahan and his sons Daniel and Christopher - are tax domiciled abroad; for a long time in Spain but more recently in Dubai.


However, because they are not living in Ireland, they need trusted people who reside in the Republic to manage their affairs here. Somebody has to manage the drug smuggling and distribution business in Dublin.

The main defendants at the centre of the latest Cab ruling in the High Court yesterday have been the Kinahans' drugs logistics team in the Republic for years.

They have been paid handsomely to remain in Ireland - for most of the time - over the years and to forego the relative security of life in the sun.

In doing so they run the risk of being targeted by Cab; a risk that the Kinahans are unwilling to take themselves and so they outsource it.

It is that risk, of being the gang members who must be on the ground in Ireland to run the drugs operation here, that has now crystallised for Liam Byrne, Liam Roe and Sean McGovern.

They were the three main defendants in the action by Cab which the High Court in Dublin ruled in favour of on Tuesday.

There were 11 defendants in total, though the other eight are relatives or associates of Byrne, Roe and McGovern.

The first defendant in the Cab case was Liam Byrne, the brother of David Byrne who was shot dead during the attack at a boxing weigh-in at the Regency Hotel, Whitehall, north Dublin, in February, 2016.

Liam Byrne established the car business at the centre of the Cab action. It was a registered company but operated merely as a front for organised crime; more specifically for the Byrne-organised crime group within the wider Kinahan empire.

The cars registered to it were used by gang members to drive about but also as an alternative to cash.

“The vehicles represent currency between different criminal elements; they are transferred between one criminal organisation to another but the ownership of the vehicle is normally recorded outside of these groupings,” was how the court put it.

The second of the three main defendants, Liam Roe, is a close friend if Liam Byrne’s. And the third man, McGovern, is another friend and was shot and wounded in the same attack that cost David Byrne his life.

Underlining how closely knit the group is; the court heard they all 11 defendants live on or close to Kildare Road in Crumlin, Dublin.

Garda sources said Byrne, Roe and McGovern pay others to transport and sell drugs in the Republic. And in doing so they minimise the risk of ever being caught in possession of significant quantities of drugs.

However, just as they outsource the risk of possessing drugs to others, the Kinahan gang has outsourced to them the risk of being targeted by Cab that comes with remaining in Ireland to manage the receipt of incoming drugs shipments and their distribution to other gangs here.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times